SpeakOut Illinois 2009 drew the largest crowd in the past ten years. In the wake of the inauguration of the most pro-abortion president in history, over four hundred pro-lifers gathered at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center to learn how they could be more effective in promoting the sanctity of life. And the TeenSpeak conference welcomed 115 enthusiastic young people.
Mary-Louise Kurey, Respect Life Director for the Archdiocese of Chicago, served as Master of Ceremonies for the day.
Three Excellent Speakers
Fr. Thomas Euteneuer opened the day with a prayer and then opened the eyes of the audience with his maps and charts detailing the pervasive influence of international family planning agencies. Fr. Tom made it perfectly clear that a massive prayer effort and educational campaign is the only way to protect families and the unborn in countries that do not yet have abortion. Once abortion is accepted, Fr. Tom said, it is almost impossible to get it out of a country.
Dr. Alveda King, founder and director of King for America, and a pastoral associate with Priests for Life, spoke about her own abortion experience and its impact on her family relationships. Dr. King is active with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, trying to alert other women to the negative effects of the abortion decision.
Dr. King also spoke of her uncle’s commitment to life and said that Planned Parenthood lied to him when they presented him with the Margaret Sanger Award, which was prior to legalized abortion. She assured the audience that Martin Luther King, Jr. would certainly be pro-life had he lived to be involved in this fight.
Rev. Rick Ligthart, executive director of PASS Pregnancy Care Center, offered the invocation before lunch.
Following a delicious lunch Mary Anne Hackett, past president of Illinois Right to Life presented the Henry Hyde Life Leadership Award to Phyllis Schlafly for her lifetime of commitment to protecting the rights of women and safeguarding the family. Schlafly gave a fascinating address, recounting the initial struggles to get a pro-life plank in the Republican national platform. She said it became easier with each election.
Drawing Winners and Collection
The third annual Passport for Life drawing added an element of fun to the task of visiting the display booths for each sponsor of SpeakOut Illinois. Lucky winners headed home with various gifts, ranging from books and DVDs to pictures, stained glass panels and collector plates.
Continuing a practice that SpeakOut has had for the past several years, a collection was taken up to post pro-life billboards in Illinois. The collection amounted to over $4000. $3000 will be sent to Pro-Life Across America – “The Billboard People.” The balance will be used to cover the cost of radio advertising for the event, a new approach for 2009.
The day ended with a prayer offered by Rev. Sam Lyons of Ashburn Baptist Church, and a memorial service for the unborn. Those in attendance were asked to make a commitment to do more than they are currently doing to promote the value of life and build a Culture of Life.
Teenspeak 2009 Equips Teens for Life
Bryan Kemper tell teens about his conversion to Christ and the pro-life movement. [Photo by Matt Yonke]
TeenSpeak 2009 was a great success. Over 120 teens and adults participated in a day filled with eye-opening and informative talks, testimonies, workshops, activities and videos.
The day began with a very moving testimony from Dr. Alveda King&mdashthe niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Next, John Jansen gave a beautiful presentation of the Pro-Life Action League’s new pro-life handbook, Sharing the Pro-Life Message.
After lunch, Bryan Kemper from Stand True Ministries gave his testimony of how he got into the pro-life movement. He motivated the teens to not just say “I’m pro-life” and let it end there.
The day ended with a seminar on making a pro-life sign by Eric Scheidler. After Eric’s presentation, the teens got a chance to put their knowledge to work in a pro-life contest to see who could make the best pro-life sign.
Two teens work on their pro-life picket sign. [Photo by Matt Yonke]
Teens in attendance were also invited to submit an essay on the topic: How would you convince a pro-life friend to become more actively involved in the fight against abortion?
Winner Ava Voissem won a $1000 scholarship and Theresa Simeo won a $500 scholarship. Both essays were excellent. In fact, TeenSpeak directors reported that choosing the winners was difficult because so many of the twenty-five entries were exceptionally good.
The reviews submitted by the teens after the conferences were overwhelmingly positive.